Reviews: Planet Earth, Naked Economics, Bobke II

Planet Earth is an 11-part series of absolutely stunning nature cinematography. Co-produced by the BBC and the Discovery Channel with a budget of $25 million and shot completely in hi-def, the result is a true work of art. The first episode, Pole To Pole, introduces the series then each episode portrays a different habitat: Mountains, Freshwater, Caves, Deserts, Ice Worlds, Great Plains, Jungles, Shallow Seas, Seasonal Forests, Ocean Deep.

I rented the BBC DVD set from the Orem Library and was mesmerized as I watched African Hunting Dogs setup an ambush, Great White Sharks attacking seals in super slow motion, Birds Of Paradise perform their flamboyant mating displays, the freakishly giant crystals of Lechuguilla Cave, intimate footage of the elusive Snow Leopard in the Himalayas, and much more.

Following each 50 minute episode is a Planet Earth Diaries segment showing how some of the shots were accomplished. A gimbaled camera aboard a helicopter, days sitting in blinds, tracking camels - it was amazing what went into capturing these images.

My only complaint was the audio mix - the narrator, David Attenborough, was too quiet (or the music too loud).

Hours of gorgeous imagery, stunning scenery and fascinating animal and plant life. Watch it, buy it, rent it now. Get the Blu-Ray hi-def version if you have the player for it.

Naked Economics takes you beyond the (oversimplified) basics of Econ 101 but still keeps the concepts clear and fairly easy to understand. The academic nature of economics has filled it with an arcane language (almost like law) that presents a barrier to the lay person, but Charles Wheelan translates and boils it down to the essential concepts. A timely read for our currently troubled economic climate, this book helped me understand economics so I can better evaluate the current problems and the proposed fixes. Recommended.

Bobke II is the follow-up to the original Bobke which is out of print, rare and quite expensive. It wanders and feels like pages from his journal torn out and plastered into a book. Bob's style is unique and feels incoherent, but just go with it and enjoy the wild ride.

Some of his stories, and the way he tells them, are hilarious. His story about being constipated during a stage of the Tour Day France and how he remedied the problem had me laughing so hard I cried.

This book is not a monument of literature, but most cyclists will find it entertaining. Recommended for cyclists. (How did I miss this in my review of cycling books? I've added it now.)


Watcher said...

I just finished Planet Earth (where else? On the trainer) and loved it. Re: the narrator, what’s interesting is that over the past several months the family and I have watched a few of the episodes on TV (KBYU maybe?) and the same episodes are narrated by an American woman, rather than (British) David Attenborough. Not sure how to get the American-accented version, but it might be easier on an American ear.

Naked Economics looks good- I’ll get it. Thanks for the tip.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Watcher, it all depends on where in America the speaker is from. I'll take London over South Carolina or New Hampshire any day. Or Utah, for that matter.

Kris, I thought the Bird of Paradise was a flower. I was confused cuz I didn't know flowers could dance. I knew they could eat small mammals, but not dance.

JoshuaMcC said...

For some reason I have an autographed copy of Bobke II. I read it more like Readers Digest, a chapter at a time on the can. I started just flipping through it until something looked interesting and found that the stories out of order didn't lose anything.
God Bless Bob Roll.

KanyonKris said...

Watcher - The Discover Channel version is narrated by Sigorne Weaver. I prefer Attenborough, but wish they would have made the narration louder so it doesn't get drowned out by the music.

Ski Bike Junkie - Yes, Bird of Paradise is a flower (I saw them in Cailofrnia last week), but Birds of Paradise is a family of birds (Planet Earth filmed ones in New Guinea). I added a link in the post.

Josh - That's cool you have an autographed copy of Bobke II. I found some of the chapters were kinda dull, but the good stories are totally worth the price of the book.